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The meaning and origin of the expression: A lick and a promise

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A lick and a promise


A cursory effort, for instance at painting or tidying up. It alludes to the perfunctory washing performed by children.


This is colloquial English and the first record of it in print that I can find is in the English newspaper The Era, March 1848:

...polish here, brush there, slop at one place, give a lick and a promise at another...